Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nourishing Herbal Infusions ( Part 10 FAQ)

Red Clover

After publishing an ebook on Nourishing Infusions (published on HerbMentor.com) I've received lots of questions about nourishing infusions. Here's the most frequent questions.  

I want the benefits of nourishing infusions but I don’t like the taste…
When we find distaste for a particular beverage or food it may be for several different reasons. One reason may be that our bodies are adapting to the new tastes and sensations. I am sure we all have memories of initially disliking something and then, after some time, really finding we enjoy it. I distinctly remember the first time I had brie cheese – I thought it was a practical joke or something. Years later living in France, I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Disliking a certain taste may also be our body’s way of communicating that we don’t need this particular nourishment at this time. I think intuitively we know which is true. If you taste a particular NHI and find that every cell in your body is shaking in disgust, I would suggest trying a different herb. However, if you try a NHI and it tastes too “green” or the texture isn’t your favorite, you can try the following to help your body’s taste buds to adapt.

• Add a pinch of mint. Not much, just a few leaves or so.
• Try adding a little salt. A pinch of salt can reduce any bitterness you may be experiencing.
• Try using less herbs. You could start with a ½ ounce and slowly increase the herb material to a full ounce. Or you could make it with the full strength of herbs and dilute it with water.
• Add a little honey or a small pinch of stevia leaves. I used to add a little honey to my infusions, and now I find that I love them straight.
• You can try mixing different herbs together. Nettle has a very strong taste, while oatstraw is much more mellow. Some find that by mixing the herbs they find wonderful concoctions that are pleasing to the palette as well. (Also see FAQ below, “Can I mix different herbs together.”)

Over time, as our taste buds change or as our nourishment needs change, we may find that a particular NHI that was once unpleasant is now quite pleasing. Also, we may find over time that we need less and less honey, salt, or mixing of herbs to enjoy the NHI. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, always be sure to re-visit different herbs and different preparations.

Nettles, a favorite herb for nourishing infusions
Can I use fresh herbs?
We typically use dried herbs when making infusions because drying herbs breaks down their cell wall, enabling their nutrients to be extracted into the water with greater ease.

What if I don’t drink it in time?
NHIs should be drunk in a 36-hour time period, otherwise it will probably be host to all sorts of bacteria. 

If you find that you haven’t drank your mix there are several things you can do besides pouring it down the drain.

• You can use it as a luxurious hair rinse – my best hair days always follow a nettle rinse.
• You can use it to fertilize plants – indoors and out.
• Or simply put it in your compost pile to nourish the soil.

Kiva Rose says she prolongs the use of her infusions by adding a little slippery elm to the mix.

Can I mix different herbs together?
Yes! When choosing my NHI herbs I like to “sample” all the options by smelling them, really looking at them, and enjoying the whole experience. In this way I can tune in to what my body is needing, and sometimes I end up mixing several herbs in my infusion.

That being said, Susun Weed recommends trying just one herb at a time. In this way you can receive the full strength of one particular plant and really learn to recognize and appreciate the way in which your body interacts with individual plants.

Especially when starting out, trying just one herb at a time really helps you to form a relationship with that plant.

Are NHI safe for children?
Absolutely. The herbs used in NHI are chosen because of their gentleness. Rather than thinking of them as medicine we can think of them as super foods that are beneficial to all, from the baby in the womb to the wisest of elders.

Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Further Reading

Healing Wise, Susun Weed

Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards

Here are links to the rest of my Nourishing Herbal Infusions Series